Dead fish have been found in the Yellowstone River near the hub of last year’s fish kill, which closed the river for nearly a month.
According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, crews from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks agency recovered 79 dead fish (76 whitefish, one brown trout, and two suckers) on the stretch of river between Livingston, Montana and the Grey Bear Fishing Access.
Test results showing the cause of death, and whether it matches the parasite-induced kidney disease that felled whitefish en masse last year, will be available next week. From the Chronicle:
Travis Horton, FWP’s regional fisheries manager, said in the release that staff will keep floating the river and that he anticipates they’ll know more next week.
“Protecting the health of the river and fishery is our top priority so we’re taking every precaution,” Horton said.
The release said FWP staff will stay on the lookout for dead and dying fish upstream of Columbus. On Thursday, staff will float from Mallard’s Rest to Pine Creek, a section of the river that runs through the Paradise Valley.
That section was hardest hit by last year’s fish kill, which was caused by a microscopic parasite that can cause proliferative kidney disease. Thousands of mountain whitefish died because of the parasite, which was exacerbated by low flows and high water temperatures.
In other places where the parasite has been present, fish kills have occurred annually. State biologists were optimistic about this year because of better river conditions. Flows are higher and temperatures have stayed lower, and longer and cooler nights are keeping temperatures down.
The news comes as FWP officials announced they were not expecting another major fish kill in the Yellowstone this year. Indeed, it is worth noting that 79 fish pales in comparison to the thousands of whitefish who perished last summer.
Although last year’s fish kill did not affect any part of the Yellowstone River within Yellowstone National Park, the threat of parasitic irruption is enough to warrant vigilance and concern.
Earlier today, we reported the FWP and the newly-formed Upper Yellowstone River Partnership are formulating a plan to deal with future fish kills. In particular, outfitters and anglers hope future management plans won’t involve another costly river closure.
If you are a Montana resident and you encounter any dead/dying fish in the Yellowstone, please call Mr. Horton at 406-994-3155.